The one able to reproduce in your kitchen the unparalleled and unique taste of that masterpiece made in the Hotel Sacher Wien, I mean.
Well, put your heart at rest: that recipe is secret, indeed, very secret.
First, it is carefully guarded by the hotel’s pastry chefs and handed down from one generation to another, since distant 1832 when it was proposed to those Vienna’s lucky people for the first time.
Furthermore, experience is certainly fundamental (the Hotel Sacher cranks out about 3,000 cakes a day) as well as the local ingredients. And beyond the inherent quality.
Many pastry chefs and experts tried to find their own version of the recipe and the debates among food bloggers are still very heated.
Recommending a recipe for this legendary cake is quite complicated. Willing to be useful anyway we did two things:
⊗ we summarized the most interesting tips. Secrets and details that can make the difference between a perfect preparation and an average one.
⊗ we have found the best three recipes. Those that impressed us the most – for many different reasons – and that we think are worth a try.
With an extra at the end. But let’s proceed step by step.
Key for deliciousness
The preparation consists of two stages: the preparation of the biscuit (the cake itself) and the chocolate icing (in some cases a ganache), the essential requisites of a Sacher worthy of its name.
Cook the biscuit in the oven. Cut it in two and insert the apricot jam when it is ready, then cover it with the chocolate icing.
The Sacher biscuit
The ingredients of the biscuit are always sugar, eggs, flour, chocolate and a pinch of salt.
In some cases, vanilla is added. In others, almond powder or almond flour is added.
The most variable characteristics are the properties of the ingredient and its variety.
Sugar, for example, is offered as icing sugar, caster sugar and even as inverted sugar. The latter is a very hygroscopic variant that, I discovered, can retain moisture and keep the cake soft over time.
Chocolate is also the subject of various interpretations. Most prefer 60% or over dark chocolate (this is the Austrian version).
The Italianpastry chef Luca Montersino uses to add also cocoa mass (100% chocolate) during the preparation of the biscuit as an intensifier.
Maurizio Santin chooses its intensity according to the step of the preparation. Ernst Knamm instead opts strictly for a 55% dark chocolate. If you opt for vanilla flavoured sugar, do not add extra vanilla.
Iginio Massari also adds a hazelnut puree to give the taste of gianduia.
Here are the best tips for a perfect biscuit:
1. Egg yolks
Once the basic batter has been prepared, the egg yolks must be added very slowly, one at a time, making sure that the previous one is perfectly mixed with the rest of the ingredients.
You should melt it in a bain-marie and add it when it is just warm, to prevent it from cooking the egg.
3. Egg whites
Once you have obtained stiff peaks, they must be incorporated very slowly. Fold gently, running the spatula along the bottom of the bowl and then up and over the batter. If you can simultaneously spin the bowl, it would be better.
During the first 10-15 minutes, the oven door should be left slightly open. Then close it until the cooking is complete (the time is around 55-60 minutes, but remember that the toothpick test is always valid)
For a perfect cut, you need to let the biscuit cool. Montersino even proposes freezing to make sure it doesn’t break. The cut should be done with a sharp or a serrated knife or with a piece of string or with a sewing thread.
The latter method seems to be very effective but it needs at least some experience. An interesting trick is to turn the cake as you proceed with the blade.
6. The jam
It should not be too cold. You need the jam to be soft because in this way it will be easier to spread a properly thin layer. Sieve it to obtain a jelly with no pieces of fruit.
Most recommend spreading the jam with a pastry brush on the whole biscuit, both on the top and on the sides. Once the biscuit is cut, Montersino recommends wetting it with vanilla liqueur-flavoured glucose syrup in order to keep it soft in the following days. Then, you can spread the jam.
Once prepared, the biscuit should rest and dry to prevent jam and icing from mixing when the latter is poured on, in the final step of the preparation
Her Majesty, the icing
Chocolate icing, or ganache (the second one is the version with added cream), is universally considered the fundamental of all the Sacher torte. It is, therefore, the most important moment of the preparation and it’s possible to find many different interpretations.
The Austrian version (the one in the Sacher cookbook) requires sugar, water and over 60% dark chocolate. Doses vary slightly between the recipe book and the Austrian version of the website.
According to the most accredited recipes, you need 200 grams of sugar, 125 ml of water and 150 grams of chocolate if you want a cake of 22-24 cm in diameter.
Sugar is what gives the glaze the shiny and waxy effect, but someone finds it a bit cloying. Ernst Knam proposes a lighter and less creamy version, consisting of 250 grams of cream and 375 grams of 55% dark chocolate. Honestly, it really depends on your personal preferences.
Some other little tips for the preparation:
1. The texture
The icing should be lukewarm when you pour it. It should not be cold because its texture should allow you to pour it easily on the biscuit with no risk of wasting it. If it were too liquid it would trickle away and would not form an adequate layer. If it’s too thick, it should be slightly heated.
2. To pour and not to spatulate
Don’t spread the icing with a spatula (if anything, use it only on the edges) but pour it. It can be levelled with the blade of a knife but touch it as little as possible.
The best way is to put the biscuit on a cake rack. You could place the rack on a tray covered with the baking paper to collect the excess chocolate. You just have to wait a few hours to enjoy it with the vanilla whipped cream.
Last but not least, two secrets more:
Prepare the cake one day in advance, because it will be better, and do not keep it in the refrigerator because it sweats. Sacher also has a soul.
The best recipes
We have read about twenty recipes and we can recommend the following:
1. The most technical: Luca Montersino
The preparation is complex and the almond variant does not excite me. More than anything, some ingredients are very specific and honestly, I have never seen them (for example inverted sugar and cocoa mass).
However, as with all great chefs, seeing him in action is certainly as interesting as following its valuable advice.
2. The most creative: Maurizio Santin
This eclectic master of south Italy has made three versions, the Val-cher, the Oriental Sacher and the Calabrian Sacher. He turned it into something new without ever distorting it.
The chocolate varies in intensity (from 55% to 60% to 72%) depending on the version of the cake and the type of ganache you want to prepare (the frothy or the soft version).
3. The most innovative: Iginio Massari
This is the way the most famous “despicable me” of the Italian pastry school presents his Sacher version. Starting with the biscuit sponge cake, prepared in 1 cm high rings to keep it soft and moist. To the acidulous jam to give chocolate goodness.
Hearing it and watching Massari in action is always magic.
3. Number-one: Ernst Knamm
Sorry for being insistent but he’s the maître chocolatier par excellence in my opinion so enjoy his wonderful version.
If you want to follow the recipe made public by the Hotel Sacher, you will find it on “Il Cucchiaio d’Argento” website. Sorry, it is in italian but Google Translator can help you.
And if you want to understand how to cut the biscuit with a thread, here is the video to try it right away. I think it’s brilliant.
Now it is time to taste it and it is up to you to judge and please let us know in the comment. We’d be very pleased to know your opinion and suggestions.